Friday, December 28, 2007

ON THIS DAY: Saturday, Dec. 28, 1861

“General Order No. 26”

Since Thursday, Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant (pictured here) has been in the field, inspecting his troops wherever they are in the Military District of Cairo. In his absence, Capt. John A. Rawlins, Grant’s assistant adjutant general (and most important staff officer), issues “General Order No. 26,” which the general had previously signed.

Grant’s order declares that all displaced citizens loyal to the United States, who have been driven into Grant’s territory from their homes in southwest Missouri, shall be “comfortably supported” by Union authorities.

Although the Federals occupy the northern two-thirds of Missouri, Confederate regulars under Sterling Price and irregulars under such desperadoes as William Quantrill are making life hard for Union loyalists in the southern third of the state.

The order does not say exactly how loyalists are to be accommodated, so local commanders are on their own in figuring out how to provide shelter and support for the unfortunate loyalists.

However, higher authority than Grant—namely, Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck, Grant’s superior—has figured out how to pay for whatever local commanders need.

Grant’s soldiers will canvass the District of Cairo, collecting forced “contributions” from Southerners deemed sympathetic to the Confederate cause. Things will go worse for “persons of Northern birth and education,” Grant’s order declares. Those deliberately unloyal Northerners will be assessed at a rate 50 percent “more than Southern men of their class of guilt and means.”

Again, just how this will be done is left unsaid. So goes the administration of justice and the solving of social problems in this early stage of the Civil War in Missouri.

PLEASE REMEMBER: Observance of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War begins in 2011...fewer than four years away!

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